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When It Comes to Self-Confidence, a Little Makeup Goes a Long Way

I wore lipstick for the first time at three years old. Here’s why I still wear it.

Image by Element5 Digital

When I was three years old, I performed in my first dance recital. I got all dressed up in my little itsy-bitsy-teenie-weenie-yellow-polka-dot-bikini costume, which was, as you may have guessed, a tiny yellow bikini with black polka dots and lots of frill. But I didn’t realize until the day of the recital (or maybe it was dress rehearsal—you know, my three-year-old memory’s a bit foggy) that I was missing an essential part of the costume.


To be specific, “Red Devil” lipstick by Victoria’s Secret.

Image by Laura Chouette

I think that moment was a sort of epiphany for me (if three-year-olds can have epiphanies).

From the moment my mom first put some lipstick on me and sent me off to dance, I felt special and beautiful and ready to take on the world in my yellow polka dot bikini.

Maybe I had this feeling because makeup at that age seemed so sacred to me. Makeup was something pretty teenage girls wore at the mall and moms wore to work. It was something you had to work your way up to, you know?

I felt ready to take on the world at three, but what about high school?

Image by Kimberly Farmer

Outside of all the Honors classes and countless clubs, I was struggling to find peace and stability after some family trouble, and as much as I appeared to have my life in order, I felt like it was spinning out of control. It was a time of big changes for me, which is partly why I think my taste in makeup also changed. I shifted from loving bold lipstick and shimmery makeup to wearing plain old Chapstick.

I didn’t have the time or energy to put on much of anything else—high school simply sapped too much of my brainpower to allow me that extra bit of time and energy.

One day when I was chillin’ in my room, I went through my rather meager selection of makeup and came across a tube of reddish/purplish lipstick my mom had given me. It was half-used, but I’d borrowed it at one point and my mom had said it suited me well, so she’d given it to me to keep. I put on some of Lancôme’s "Wine Party" and suddenly felt a whole lot different.

I felt calmer, more in control. Brighter, more confident. Lighter, more beautiful.

I was still stressed. All my problems were still there, and my homework wasn’t going to finish itself, but hey, I felt better!

After that, I became more enthusiastic about buying and trying lipsticks of all shades and styles.

Slowly, I acquired my own personal collection, trying them out with other types of makeup and flitting about my home wearing them.

Most of the time I wasn’t even going anywhere—I was just wearing makeup for myself, because I wanted to.

It made me feel happy, and that’s what mattered.

Image by Hybrid

Eventually, I became more confident wearing makeup outside my house—to school, in front of my extended family, and with friends. I went from being quietly confident to expressing my confidence in a new way. I felt like I had finally reached that sacred point—I’d worked my way up, and I liked the feeling at the top.

Now, as a college student, sometimes I just can’t find it in me to put on makeup, for three reasons:

1. It still requires time and energy.

2. Sometimes I like my face just the way it is and don’t want to change it or make it up.

3. I barely roll out of bed in time to make it to Zoom class, so how on earth would I have time to put on makeup?

Even though I may not always be in the mood or have time to put on makeup, I’ve found that I’m okay with just wearing Chapstick like I did in high school. Over the years, I’ve become secure enough that I don’t need makeup to make me feel confident or more like myself.

Maybe I’ve gained so much confidence because of all those years trying on makeup, or maybe I’ve just grown into my natural power.

Sure, I’ll swipe on some lipstick if I’m feeling down, but wearing makeup is not my end-all-be-all confidence booster. It simply helps.

That’s not to say that I don’t enjoy wearing makeup in college.

My roommates are bound to see me walking around our dorm trying out new shades of lipstick (my favorite still being "Wine Party" or any colors similar to it), and I love going out rockin’ some carefully chosen makeup that complements my outfit (although that’s kind of hard these days with masks and all).

Speaking of, exactly, am I supposed to show off my lipstick if the lower half of my face is always covered up and I can’t go out anywhere?

Image by L N

Perhaps the better question is, how can I still own my confidence without getting lipstick stains all over my mask? That’s when I crack out the makeup bag and start rifling through for other options. Over the course of the pandemic, I’ve discovered new ways to wear old makeup and had time to experiment with the full contents of my makeup bag. Even though I may not be able to wear my comforting lipstick all the time, I can still express myself, increase my confidence, and lift my mood by finding new ways to adapt in the world of Covid.

Now, wearing makeup may work for building my self-confidence, but it may not work for you.

Whatever makes you feel your best—whether it’s working out, lying down on the couch watching TV, or smiling—do it.

Do things that you love and make you feel better, not worse. Do things that make you feel relaxed, not stressed.

Life is stressful, and I can’t promise that any of these suggestions will make it less so. But to make it a bit more bearable, treat yourself with a little mood-boosting and confidence-building every now and then. Even repeating a mantra in your head or looking up “confidence boosting quotes” online can help if you need a starting point—but remember that you deserve to take care of yourself and treat yourself and love yourself. You deserve it.

Image by Sydney Rae

As for me? Well, to this day, I still wear my lipstick, bright and confident—and I have a feeling that won’t ever change.


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